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Re: [XTalk] The Streetlight Fallacy

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  • sdavies0
    Gordon Raynal wrote: The question: Why the creeps? All of this effort going into a project that seems to be hopeless is creepy. Or at least it seems
    Message 1 of 97 , Jan 2, 2005
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      Gordon Raynal wrote: "The question: Why "the creeps?""

      All of this effort going into a project that seems to be hopeless is
      creepy. Or at least it seems hopeless given the set of questions
      that are presently being asked.

      If one asks different sorts of questions, such as
      "what was the state of affairs vis a vis what became Christianity
      before Paul's letters?" without presupposing that the answer
      should necessarily principally include a person's biography, well
      then some sort of progress might be possible.

      GR "Comments: 1. If Mark is what we have, then in principle no
      historical research can be done. One has to have more than one
      source, eh;)? All the talk about "Mark's historical reliability"
      or "trustworthiness as a historical resource" is simply an assertion
      without data to back it up. As you note, going on to Matthew and
      Luke is of no help whether they derived their stories textually or
      from "oral traditions," for where there is repetition, then it's
      Mark's basic story being repeated and then for all those confounding
      changes that are either shared or unique to each, we have no source
      materials for them. We're stuck with single sources and one can do
      no research beyond that! I wouldn't use "creeps," (and am interested
      in why you do) I'd just say that we should stop pretending to do
      historical study."

      Indeed so. In fact the movement for the past couple decades seems to
      be toward doubting Mark's historical value. As I wrote before,
      fairly reliable people argue that Mark's beginning is fiction,
      Mark's conclusion is fiction, Jesus' basic self-presentation
      (chapters 8 – 10, 13) is fiction, the nature miracles are fiction
      and it is certainly not the case that there were in fact demons with
      whom he discussed his identity issues. Who really thinks that the
      individual incidents reported are ones that really happened? Jesus
      and his disciples were walking through a field stealing grain
      when… Jesus went back to Nazareth and then… and so forth.

      Heck, people underestimate IMO the significance of the fact that
      those who revised Mark, and I think I'll include John, disagreed
      pretty profoundly with it. That's why they rewrote it, that's
      why Luke made a preface denigrating those previous sources he was
      stuck with. But they do not seem to have had anything else to work
      with. They don't know anything biographical that's new or
      different, just that they don't like the Mark's persepectives
      on various matters.

      It's also creepy how Mark must necessarily have relied, if his
      history includes anything like actual factual reports, on sources
      that it is his principal purpose to denigrate. The idiotic betraying
      disciples and the family who thought him possessed or mad and who he
      rejected, these are presumably the sources Mark relies upon for his
      account, especially for the central chapters and chapter 13, and
      etc. It's actually rather post-modern of him to write a book
      showing the utter unreliability of the persons whose reporting is
      purportedly the foundation of his text.

      GR "2. Despite all the assertions for those who want to be
      heirs of Schweitzer's reading of Mark, I'm not sure why they want to
      call Jesus "an apocalyptic prophet." Mark's Jesus is no such thing,
      he's the suffering servant messiah who is glorified to heavenly
      rule. This is right clear from the first sentence, eh;)? And the
      legacy of this group is not best described as an apocalyptic
      community, but a cultic community. That the apocalyptic resources
      were utilized as **part** of casting who this messianic figure was
      goes without saying, but Jesus is more importantly cast in terms of
      classical prophecy, the Davidic covenant, the role of new Moses and
      Solomonic wisdom (and let's not forget Melkizidek:)!). That some
      communities early on went a bit zoo-y on "end times" ferment only
      tells us that some of those Gentiles didn't quite get the
      ramifications of Jewish eschatological thought (this sort of zoo-i-
      ness has a rather long history, itself). All the Gospels, yes, even
      Mark, are exegetical works meant for what they've been used for for
      nigh onto 2 millennia now... feasting celebration, sermonizing,
      scriptural reflection, etc. If we want to peer underneath Mark's
      messiah (and to do this one has to affirm some resources available
      to us from such as Paul, Thomas, Q, the Didache, Josephus... so we
      have more than one source to work with), well this goes to show, in
      my view, that Mark didn't think Jesus was "an apocalyptic prophet"
      either:)! One who "only speaks in parables" isn't doing prophetic
      utterances by any definition from the Hebraic heritage!"

      I agree for sure. Mark's Jesus is apocalyptic in pieces, but that
      is not primarily Mark's main point by any means. The only time he
      really gets off on God's impending slaughter of humanity is in
      chapter 13, a discourse heard by 4 souls who are, if we accept the
      overall narrative, pretty much guaranteed not to understand it. And
      isn't it generally concluded that somewhere between little and
      none of it was actually spoken by Jesus?

      Paul is said to be quite the apocalyptic fellow and a firm Jesusite
      and yet there is not a single time when we agree that Paul
      accurately calls upon the sayings of Jesus to support his
      apocalyptic views. If Jesus was mainly an apocalyptus why has this
      been forgotten by Paul? Of course, IF we want to say that Mark's
      is a fictional Jesus, then the apocalypticism of Mark (cptr 13) will
      have been retrojected there from the later apocalyptic groups.

      Thomas, of course, is anti-apocalyptic, denying directly that Jesus
      taught such stuff, perhaps in response to the growing tendency to
      retroject apocalypticism onto Him.

      While I do not agree for a nanosecond that the gospels are "works
      meant for what they've been used for" nor that Jesus was, in
      Mark, that host of things you say he was cast to be, I do agree that
      he is the suffering servant messiah first and foremost. And, of
      course, we can be fairly sure that he didn't, if he was an
      historical figure, think that that was what he was.

      GR "3. Back to the other subject line about historical research +
      the viability of Christianity hanging in the balance, folks would do
      well to read a book like Jaroslav Pelikan's book about Christ across
      the centuries. That book rather nicely lays out the many view of
      Christ that have been variously created and focused on across these
      2 millennia. They are numerous and they go to show the rich tapestry
      of what reading the Gospels has led to. Back to Schweitzer's rather
      stoic picture of a failed, but courageous millennial figure this
      rather makes much sense in light of the European world at the turn
      of the last century. And this is to say, that Schweitzer's
      characterization fits nicely as one of the creative works of
      exegetical imagination. Notably he left the schoolhouse and went off
      to doctoring after this leaving the growing nightmare world for a
      place where he could practice a bit of human care. If that's the
      legacy of his sort of portraiture, then hey, not bad! But, of
      course, the making of exegetical portraits isn't doing history."

      And since the Gospels are exegetical portraits, where does that
      leave us? It sure does seem that everybody creates a Jesus to fit
      their own selves, doesn't it? You can criticize Schweitzer for
      this, and I keep noting that Crossan's Jesus is a fine American
      liberal. Preachers figure Jesus and or the evangelists were mainly
      interested in sermonizing and scriptural reflections, professors
      know they were primarily teachers, and Mormons find them to be
      prototypical of persons of the Mormon faith. But I guess this isn't
      news. Yet isn't it creepy how everybody knows that people make their
      image of Jesus like themselves and yet, having acknowledged this,
      away they go doing it anyhow.

      Maybe the non-paralleled sayings in Thomas reflect the Real Jesus
      and He was, therefore, not anything like anybody in Christendom
      today. or maybe not.

      Steve Davies
    • John E Staton
      Rick wrote: I wonder what a Galilean Darlek would look like I haven t a clue, but I know what one would *say*: EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE! Incidentally, I
      Message 97 of 97 , Jan 6, 2005
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        Rick wrote: "I wonder what a Galilean Darlek would look like"

        I haven't a clue, but I know what one would *say*:

        Incidentally, I apologise to our wonderful moderator for my earlier use of
        President Bush's favourite weapon: the pre-emotive strike!!

        Best Wishes
        Penistone, Sheffield UK
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